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Vulnerable children & families

Interactive map: Places with higher lead rates than Flint

Across Michigan, thousands of children are dealing with the effects of lead poisoning. Although much of the focus has been on lead in Flint’s water supply, in many parts of the state the percentage of children with elevated levels of lead exceed rates in Flint. While man-made decision on Flint’s water supply are the cause of the abrupt rise in rates there, the culprit elsewhere around the state is often lead paint found in older homes.

Zoom in to see how many children tested positive in your ZIP code (add your city and MI to the search). The areas in red are where more than 5 percent of children tested had elevated lead levels, higher than Flint. (Dark red areas had 10 or more such children; light red areas had fewer than 10 children). You can use the search box to find your location. UPDATED with 2014 data

Source: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services

99 comments from Bridge readers.Add mine!

  1. James Anderson

    Interactive maps by zip code can sometimes be useful for quickie statistics. In this case, the interactive map is not quite, but almost useless, especially for any serious comparative views. For the substantial number of your readers who work with real numbers and statistics on an almost daily basis, please supply a link to the actual tables, or at least to the digital or print source(s) for this info. Where should I go to get the real numbers, real maps, and zip code identifications.? I confess, I have not memorized all Michigan zip codes.

    Bridge is a valuable online publication, but you missed the mark with this article.

    1. Mike Wilkinson

      James: We tried to bring the data to readers in the best way possible. If you know where you live or an area you want to check, scroll in. As you get closer, the ZIP code labels appear. Here’s the link to the 2012 data: The state supplied me with a spreadsheet for the 2013. I hope this helps.

      1. Arthur

        That data is from 2012 and 2013. You can not go by that. Then you don’t know if their lead came from paint chips or water. So they can not compare this with Flint.

        1. jay mc kennon

          The degradation and continual rate left unchanged would probably increase by saturation in the neighborhood of 2.5% – 6%.Unless the MDNR or EPA has memorandum of ACTIVE CLEAN-UP SITE or MSC564-15 or Lead Containment Evaluations under Provision 15 under OSHA authorization for site contamination, then the levels have probably increased not decreased,and the exact values have INCREASED.Though being some educated hillbilly with a degree in environmental sciences and wildlife mgt. only has this state paying me $38,900 a year and a decrease in benefits.
          Meanwhile Snider just gives fancy acronyms for what will be done,and Flint has gotta enough cancerous agents in bloodstreams to kill about 115,000 over the next 20 years.LOSE LOSE

        2. Ray

          Since nobody knows if Flints elevated lead levels are purely from the water, they are certainly comparable. And by the way, Flint had even higher lead levels in their kids in 2012, 2011, and 2010 than they do now. 2010 was nearly double what it is now. So very likely Flints problem is also not limited to the water.

          1. Curmudgeon51

            That just might have something to do with the allowable limit having been dramatically reduced at almost exactly the same time as the switch from Detroit water to Flint River water.

        3. Mark Laidlaw

          A significant portion of the lead poisoning in urban areas comes from exposure to lead in soil dust that is resuspended into the air during the summer when soils are dry – see

      2. Dani

        Where are the statistics for 2014 – 2015? I am concerned as my child and I both drink the water from the faucet. Why are the results from 2 – 3 years ago???

        1. Rev.roro

          Buy a Our water pitcher. Takes out multiple chemicals out of your water. Pick one up at wal mart. I used to live in watervliet. We had the water filter we had to add salt to all the time could have saved money by buying a couple PUR pitchers instead. The filter will clean up to 40 or 50 gallons of water per filter. You cal but a pack of 3 filters at a time. If you want. Have a Great day. Hope this helps you and your son. Mate. Later.

        2. Bobbi

          Just after / at end of 2nd paragraph: “UPDATED with 2014 data” Contact Source about more recent results: Michigan Department of Health and Human Services? Though it would take time to tabulate the whole state.
          It might not look like much, yet there has been a lot of work put into the map.
          Test your water? Get a filter which removes lead?

    2. Anne

      I agree, the map was horrible. I put in my zip code for Kalamazoo area, and ended up in Greece! I see it was a MI DHHS map.

    3. barb

      Albion, Battle Creek, Flint, hmm. I’m seeing paralells here. water, decaying infrastructure, old buildings (exposed lead paint), I’m seeing a pattern. this may be a few years old, but check demographics and poverty levels. I think you will see what I mean.

  2. Ryan

    I’m interested in how this was mapped out and the dataset used. There’s just no way that Zip Code 49441 has higher lead levels than Flint

    1. Mike Wilkinson

      Mike Wilkinson here. That indeed is what the state data says. However, that ZIP code is small and just a few children with positive tests pushed it above 5 percent, which is where Flint as a whole was earlier this year. The difference is this: In Flint, the rise in rates (some ZIP codes within Flint saw their rates more than double from 2013 to 2015) indicated something was afoul and it was, according to the experts. But the city has had one of the lower overall rates among the state’s biggest cities.

      1. Ryan


        “ZIP code is small and just a few children with positive tests pushed it above 5 percent”

        This is the very reason why mapping this data according to ZIP code is misleading. A chloropleth map isn’t always the best way to represent data, but hey we’re limited by our dataset

        I wasn’t doubting the veracity of the data I just wanted to look at it.


        1. kirstie

          they seem pretty concerened about flints lead water levels…. they dont seem to mave much of a problem on this map, where i am fro jackson and half the county is in the red…..thats terrifying

          1. Laura

            This data set is too old to show current lead levels in Flint…

          2. Mike Wilkinson

            Yes, it is. Map will be updated soon with statewide 2014 data. The comparison was made to data from 2014 and 2015 that the state provided Bridge on Flint. In Flint, the average may have been 5 percent but the problem was the rate had risen markedly when in most areas of the state expsoure rates have been steadily declining for over two decades.

    2. Mike Wilkinson

      Many places in the state have elevated lead levels among a higher percentage of children. For over two decades, the percent of chilrden with elevated levels has gone down, mostly because of education efforts and the removal of lead from paint and gasoline. Still, it is higher in areas of older homes typically. In Flint, the rise in the percentage of children with lead sparked the outcry because it was the result of a man-made decision to switch water sources. But overall, Flint levels are lower than in many other ZIP codes. But the tragedy in Flint is the rise in levels and the reason why. This map, and the story that accompanied it in December, point that out. Flint, like the scandal of lead-tainted toys coming into the U.S. from China a few years ago, point out that lead remains a very dangerous compound that continues to have negative effects on too many.

    3. kirstie

      was made by dhhs, and they tested kids. and they test kids through wic

    4. Sue

      ZIP CODE: 49201
      2012 —– 2013
      Total tested 669 768
      Positive tests* 47 48
      Percent 7% 6.3%
      * Testing above 5 micrograms
      per deciliter

    5. Jeri

      Campbell Wyant & Cannon was in that zip code…makes you wonder what might have leached from their plant into the ground. I know there are a lot of cancers at a very young age in some of those neighborhoods. I hope that’s not the case.

  3. Heidi Shillair

    Has anybody considered vaccines as possible lead poisoning?

    1. Andrea

      Are you dense? Or just drinking too much lead water? House dust contains more lead than any vaccine.

    2. Todd

      No, no one has considered that because vaccines don’t contain lead, so that would be impossible.

    3. Rich

      Has anyone considered that the medical community is sneaking into your home at night to inject our children with lead as part of a vast conspiracy to poison kids for absolutely no reason?

    4. Bob

      Vaccines are worrying from Mercury or “Thimerosal “

      1. Bel

        Except MMR vaccines never contained Thimerosal to begin with. Only Tdap, Tdap-MiB and flu vaccinations ever contained it, and it was removed from any childhood vaccines in 2001. Even then, it was only removed because the FDA decided in 1999 to attempt to reduce overall mercury exposure, not because Thimerosal itself was dangerous. It’s an ethylmercury as opposed to a methylmercury – and ethylmercury doesn’t bioaccumulate (i.e., stay in the body). Mercury standards are based on methylmercury, which does bioaccumulate.

        In short, there is still nothing worrying about vaccines except people not getting them and allowing child and immunocompromised killing diseases to reemerge.

        1. mick

          Thank you…anti-vaxxers make me crazy!

          1. JC

            Pro-vaxxers drive me crazy.

    5. Linda

      Exactly what I was just thinking, Heidi. How many of these people run out to get their flu vaccines or think nothing of having (God knows what) injected into their kids. My brother is an RN and will not get flu vaccines because they’re full of mercury.
      Flint is an entitlement community, and that is the reason we’re hearing so much from them. Lead is all over the nation. Maybe it’s time we ALL started thinking for ourselves and stop following like blind sheep.

      1. Alicia

        Linda, for heaven’s sake, read Bel’s reply above. Seriously, your RN brother isn’t getting a vaccine because of the mercury? It’s sad how even the “educated” people make such dumb conclusions. People die of the flu and its complications… no one has died from the apparent “mercury” in the flu vaccine.
        And who the heck thinks our vaccines contain lead? Seriously?

      2. Mg

        It’s bad enough people like you don’t hesitate to be obese and stuff ungodly amounts of soda and processed food into your body and then point out how vaccines are bad. Just guessing of course, but it’s a safe bet. Yeah, go ahead and blame all your problems on the government and vaccines.

      3. mick

        Linda, I am an RN and I receive a flu vaccine every year. My daughter has asthma and the flu virus could have dire consequences for her. I’m terrified for when she goes to school and is exposed to kids whose parents aren’t educated enough to realize that vaccines save lives! If you refuse a flu vaccine, you are risking the life of my child and others like her…smdh

        1. JG

          And, believe that to work in health care you must get a flu shot or wear a mast during flu season.

    6. Sally G

      Lead is not the problem with vaccines. Aluminum and mercury are the problems with vaccines.

  4. JeffH

    This map says that it’s mostly related to lead-based paint, not lead in the drinking water like Flint’s. Way to scare the people of Michigan, Bridge Magazine.

    I think this really does a disservice to the residents of Flint and the way they got screwed over by the State of Michigan and the Governor.

    1. Edna

      My daddy painted all his life and my brother has his own painting business ,if you don’t disturb lead paint ,like sand it and inhale it ,or eat it ,it’s not going to hurt you. What are these kids doing eating paint off the wall ? That is false

      1. Ryan

        Think moving parts… doors and windows. The friction between the moving parts releases dust, this dust is then distributed through the home via ducts, contact, etc.

        This occurs much more often in older homes with poor upkeep as those moving parts have not been replaced and continue to release the dust.

        Young children chew on window sills, railings and banisters, ingesting lead.

        Add to that these areas house residents with little control to make repairs and have little money to feed their children properly, reducing calcium and iron intake and the lead makes a home in their blood and then their bones.

        1. oldhouseguy

          Your not going to get much from opening windows and doors if you live in an old house its long been rubbed off and usually the parts of the windows behind the stops the rub don’t have paint on them , because most people don’t remove the window to paint it. Also old houses usually don’t have duct work to blow any said dust around , they usually have radiant heat , I live in a 130 year old house and have refinished wood in the house and I open windows and doors all the time and have been checked for lead and I was fine as well as other neighbors in our historic district here in the 49441 zip code . So I don’t exactly buy the old house with “potential” lead based paint as the issue

          1. steve

            What an idiot

      2. JET

        Soil is another source of lead in urban areas. Gasoline once contained lead and is a problem in urban areas and along roadways. Soil near houses painted with lead-based paint is also a problem. Some pottery and toys are other possible sources of household lead.

  5. Sarah

    This map is atrocious. Many of the counties that do not have statistically significant differences (given sample sizes) are assigned dramatically different colors. It’s misleading, even unethical, to report noise.

  6. CRAHO

    I call shenanigans. Skewed data. For instance, my area code 49829 had municipal tests conducted that showed 2.2 ppb of Lead. Flint has 11 ppb (which is below the allowable for action, but not good). The data this website used was a sampling of blood tests — in my area code, 14 kids tested had a presence of lead in their system, which is a small percentage of a tiny sampling of a comparatively tiny population. In reality, the 14 kids with positive tests probably bad wells and old pipes with water that sat in them, or they ate paint chips. If you’re looking for good data to report, look at the municipal water tests. If you’re looking to scare people and get them to read your misleading, drummed up reports, keep doing what you’re doing..

  7. Aaron Fuller

    Take this horrible article down! This is a gross misuse of these data and incredibly misleading. You should be ashamed of yourselves!

    1. mick

      This is just propaganda being used to remove blame from Snyder for the mess he has allowed to happen in Flint, plain and simple.

      1. Soul dancer

        The people of flint elected their government. Don’t blame it on Snyder. Obviously your facts are misleading.

        1. TLyn

          Except the people they elected had no power after Snyder appointed the Emergency Manager. please get YOUR facts straight.

        2. John Scarbrough

          The ELECTED officials did NOT make the water decision. The Emergency Manager appointed by Gov Snyder made this decision.

  8. Robert Nystrom

    I typed in 49201 and got Germany, not Jackson, Michigan. Good idea for a story, bad final product.

    1. Sue

      I put in my zip code too for Jackson, MI plus the 4 digit per address. It pinpointed my spot in Jackson MI

  9. Rich

    I’d rather see this data presented as percentage data than as a whole number for comparative purposes. For example my zip code is dark red and in 2013 reports 39 kids testing above 5ppb of lead. The population of my zip code in 2013 was 25,641. That’s vyig

  10. Marcia Perry

    Have to agree that this article is more misleading and fear-inducing than useful or enlightening. My ZIP code also sent me to Germany!

    1. Mike Wilkinson

      If you put in your town and ZIP it will locate it. Like this: Detroit, MI 48226. In many cases, putting just the ZIP will get you there but to be sure, add the city and state abbreviation too.

  11. Charles

    Please take this off the internet. It is dumb people fodder makes our state look inept and downplays a real problem in Flint.

  12. David

    Comparing high lead due to lead paint to high lead due to municipal water supply is so absurd. What’s the point? It’s completely apples and oranges. In one case, every child who drank the water was exposed. In the other, children have to be in an environment with lead paint, and then ingest it somehow. I really don’t see the value in this comparison.

  13. sharon

    I live in the 48627 and 48653 area where it says there is a high level of Lead in the Water. I have Well Water that is 130 feet deep and some of the Best water in the State. Our water could be bottled and shipped to Flint. I do not believe this at all.

  14. Kathleen Poort


  15. Susan Murdie

    Will you please look into the demolitions that are done in Michigan without the most stringent rules for lead?
    The demolitions are concentrated in our low income, city neighborhoods here in Michigan.

  16. VeronaWery

    A little Humor on a Serious subject I always thought when told to get the lead out meant move a little faster!!

  17. C. V-butler

    I’m curious about the potential shift in data when we take into consideration the change in levels considered “lead poisoned” and “elevated”? Does this data count as “elevated” levels by the old or new reccomendations?

  18. Breanne

    So is this contamination in Jackson Michigan right now?

  19. George Gardiner Jr

    Saint Joseph, MI 49085

  20. Bill

    If I understand this correctly, it shows areas where there are more people that show lead in their system than the people in Flint, but they have not been poisoned as severely. If they had, we would have been hearing about THEM dying and getting legionaries disease.

  21. Sharon

    Is it possible to determine whether the lead levels in blood is caused from Flint water or from lead-based paint? Has anyone considered that possibility?

    1. Ron French

      Sharon, lead paint is the leading cause of lead poisoning. But in the case of Flint, the issue is the increase in rate of lead poisoning since the switch to the Flint River as a water source.

  22. melissa

    So, if the data was collected 2 – 3 years ago, is it comparing Flint’s water from 2 – 3 years ago or current water conditions? Apples and oranges?

  23. ML

    Lead levels could be high any where. At one time many older homes had & still do have lead pipes. Many towns near mines, old garbage dumps etc are subject to higher metal levels. None of us are excluded from hazards put in the ground or in our homes.We are not very vigilant but very reactive! That does not excuse the water issue in Flint however. EPA failed in their reporting. If we can’t count on those bodies who can we count on!

  24. linda sturgill



  25. Kelly

    Whoever wrote this should check their facts. I just got off the phone with muskegon water plant superintendent mike. They are required to be tested every 4 years. The last time muskegon water was tested was in 2014. The level for the highest test was .8 parts per billion. State requires it to be below 15 parts per billion. So yes old reports and old data make a difference.

    1. Mike Wilkinson

      The map and the accompanying story make clear that lead rates around the state, as depicted in this map, are the result of exposure to lead from paint and other sources, but not, most likely, water supplies. In Flint, it was a number of decisions regarding the switch away from Detroit water that resulted in the increased levels of lead in more childdren. Elsewhere, lead exposure rates are declining. However, it is still a great scourge in many places where old lead paint continues to flake off and is in the soil and dust.

  26. Lori

    What is the most troubling to me is that I’ve been buying Kalamazoo water for 15 years and every year they put out a pretty little trifold pamphlet called Water Quality Report. I, unlike most people actually read them every year and I see that of course all of the levels of toxins are within the “acceptable” range. If this article is true, they lied in those years about high lead levels! They tell us where our fluoride comes from, the waste of aluminum and fertilizer factories, and I know that if they didn’t buy it from the fertilizer companies they would need to dispose of it in a hazardous waste dumping site. Kalamazoo has NEVER never indicated a problem with lead. If this is true, it just shows us the levels they will go to to blatantly lie to our faces for their agenda. There are NO acceptable levels of lead and lead is NOT easy to get out of the body. Lead poisoning and fluoride lower I.Q’s and now it’s been shown that fluoride pulls the lead out of pipes so I don’t trust any of them to tell me the truth. What really irritates me is that we have to pay for this swill to come into our homes and then either pay through the nose for a full house filtration system or buy bottled water in toxic plastic bottles. In the meantime our families are using this water for everything and some are cooking with it and drinking it that can’t afford to buy bottled water. If we are paying for water, it should be the cleanest water available and it’s not! The lawsuits from this Flint crisis could bankrupt the state and Snyder is at the helm! The only way to fix this is to replace all the pipes and they won’t do that.

  27. RJH3

    I believe this article is valuable information. As Mike Wilkinson (January 15, 2016 at 9:57 am) commented, the alarming facts about Flint are twofold: 1) lead in the water and 2) bad, maybe criminal, decisions or non-decisions that put lead into the water. Lead problems wherever they are are serious problems and there is no need to think that talking about the bigger lead problem in Michigan minimizes the seriousness of the irresponsible decisions made by those in charge of ensuring Flint water was safe. Both these problems need continued attention and publicity: Eliminate dangerous levels of lead in our drinking water. Bring appropriate legal action against those with government authority who made wrong and perhaps illegal decisions. Flint is the flash point of these two problems today, but we should know these two problems go beyond Flint. Let’s clean the whole house, starting with Flint.

  28. Dennis Mudloff


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